View Full Version : Wet Darkroom not Dead?

Jim Rhoades
14-Dec-2005, 12:22
I'm sick of reading articles and threads on how film and the wet darkroom is dead. For six months now I've been trying to buy a good 20x24 easel on e-bay. They keep going for over $300 bucks with two dozen bids. What's up with that? Who's buying them all? Come on it's an easel not a Cooke Triple used by AA. Can somebody give me a reasonable explaination other than I'm cheap?

14-Dec-2005, 12:32
My Beard was $50 -) Of course it was almost that to ship it across the province.

Steve Feldman
14-Dec-2005, 12:34
Not cheap.

Thrifty perhaps.

But not cheap.

But seriously, their are a few of us die-hards that want to improve our darkroom equipment and a 20 x 24 easel isn't cheap in the first place. Especially if it's a 4 blade adjustable.

But, I could be wrong.

I wouldn't pay that much - bit I AM cheap.

Steve Feldman
14-Dec-2005, 12:40
Just checked B&H's site - $500 new.

Brad Rippe
14-Dec-2005, 13:20
Hi Jim,

I made a very simple easle (16 by 20) out of plywood with an aluminum frame, held together with simple angles. I've used it for the last 12 years, simple and no problems. You almost don't even need an easle going that big. You can lay the paper right on the enlarging table and hold it down with metal strips on two sides.

I'd rather put money into fun things like lenses.


14-Dec-2005, 14:36
I agree with Brad. I've used this simple and economical solution for years and it works great. $300.00+ dollars will buy alot of paper.

Paul Ewins
14-Dec-2005, 14:55
I've gone one step further and made my own vacuum easel. The top is a nice thick piece of MDF, pine for the sides and a thin piece of MDF for the bottom to keep the air out. A $20 mini vacuum cleaner sits on the floor and is connetced by some 25mm plastic tubing to a hole in the side of the easel. On the top I have drilled a series of holes that correspond to the edges of the common paper sizes, so an 8x10 will be held in place by holes near its edges and at 5x7 and 5x3.5. There is more than enough pressure to suck a piece of paper flat and hold it gently in place, regardless of the size of the paper. All up cost would be no more than $40 and it gave me an afternoon of happy power tool use.

Victor Samou Wong
14-Dec-2005, 16:41
an oldtimer here at the Hart House Camera club scoffed at the old mangled 20x24" easel that we had and said "you should just be using masking tape, it works just as well".

I looked at the easel prices then went... heeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.....


John Kasaian
14-Dec-2005, 17:48

You need to find a lab thats going digi. I bought a saunders easel for $25 and a portfolio box for $5. You should have seen my big armenian S M I L E !

Jim Rhoades
14-Dec-2005, 19:06
Thanks guys. The reason I want, as John would say, a honk'in big easel is for 10x20 and 12x24 enlargements. I'm pretty handy with a table saw and wood clamps so I guess I'll make some for each size. Baltic birch of course.

But, if this game is dead, who is buying all the easels at such a high price? Even the speed easels are going for more than they are worth.

Joseph O'Neil
14-Dec-2005, 19:26
I agree, things seem far from dead. maybe almost a mini-revival.

about 7-8 years ago, i was able to pick up a used Omega D2 enlarger fairly cheap. Recently, some 4x5 omega enlargers, colour heaeds, showed up in a local camera store. they didn't last more than a couple of weeks before they disappeared. but there are still there are still plenty of 35mm enlargers, 35mm film tanks, etc, selling cheap around here.

Anything LF is non-existant. Easels, enlarging lenses in the 135 to 180mm range, etc, all are scarce to none. View camera magazine gets snapped off the shelf very quickly too, faster than it used to. so who knows


Bruce Watson
15-Dec-2005, 07:00
The articles in the magazines proclaiming film is dead are just typical journalism. They only tell part of the story. What's dead, is investigative journalism ;-)

In truth, I think film is dying or already dead in commercial and advertising work. The reseason for this is the rapid turn around you get from digital - you can go from photo shoot to magazine layout in hours instead of days. It's not about the quality - it's about the turn around time. Time is money after all.

So, the commercial and advertising firms are unloading all their film equipment into the used marketplace. The buyers are people like you and me. People who couldn't afford to buy this equipment new, but who want the quality. This has created a thriving used equipment market. EBay has facilitiated this market making you and me bid against anyone in the world who is interested in it. This of course drives up the price paid. This has been good for sellers and bad for buyers pricewise. OTOH, it has been good for buyers in that they can find stuff nationally or internationally that they can't find locally at any price.

In sum, what you are seeing is the film market swing from professional to amateur, and there are lots of amateurs out there bidding on the used equipment. And even though the number of people using film equipment, particularly LF equipment, is rapidly growing, the volume of film, paper, and chemicals used is in steep decline. Where a professional would go through 50 sheets of film a day in the studio, I'm lucky to average 50 sheets of film a month. Herein lies Kodak's and Ilford's problems.

David Crossley
15-Dec-2005, 11:39
Not dead at all Jim, picking up and chugging along quite nicely from what i can see.

Determining your LF equipment needs and then sourcing it is a study in patience and persistence. In fact, i would describe as being a most serious hobby.

Took me a year to find a used Saunders 20x24 four blade easel. They had two for sale, i snapped up the both of them.

David Crossley/Crossley Photography....

Brian Ellis
16-Dec-2005, 05:11
"For six months now I've been trying to buy a good 20x24 easel on e-bay. They keep going for over $300 bucks with two dozen bids. What's up with that?"

Jim - Maybe the Hunt brothers are at it again, only this time with 20x24 easels rather than silver. : - ) More likely I think it demonstrates that there's still a market for the top quality or more unusual darkroom items. But your message shows why the manufacturers of traditional darkroom equipment are gone or are in deep trouble. The people buying darkroom stuff are mainly doing it on ebay.